Fewer home loan applications are being approved with a minimum of underwriting fuss as lenders tighten scrutiny in a real estate market with narrowing margins of error, a consumer Web site reported today.

When subjected to collateral review, mortgage applications in the “slam dunk” category accounted for 66.5 percent of the last six month’s application volume. That was down from 68.8 percent for the prior six months, according to HomeSmartReports.com.

The result of the increased lender scrutiny is that mortgage risk has declined by 34.8 percent during the past year, the company said.

“As appreciation rates come down, fewer mistakes will be submerged by a rapid rise in home values. There may be some added caution because federal regulators have told the lending industry to be more careful, especially when it comes to loans in the so-called sub-prime category. Consumers need to do their homework,” said Mike Ela, president of HomeSmartReports.com.

While slam-dunk mortgage applications account for 66.5 percent of the volume nationwide, there are significant variations from state to state. Slam-dunk home loans account for 44.1 percent in Colorado, and 84.3 percent in Massachusetts. At the metropolitan level, the range is from 9.7 percent in Pueblo, Colo., to 91.3 percent in Midland, Texas.

HomeSmartReports provides online access to real estate sales trends and property value estimates.


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